Opening the line of communication with your loved ones is very important. I can not stress this enough. Do not shut the door closed. Do not close whatever window is still open. Allow your loved ones to come to you and to open up their hearts. Be someone they can trust, be someone they can come to when they're feeling down, and just be there to listen to them. No judgment, no feedback even, just listen. They're not expecting you to know what to say or to say the right thing, they just want you to be there for them.
We fear stigma, we want perfection, and we worry about reputation. In the end, we just need to try and be there for our loved ones. Put everything aside and just be there. Don't worry about anything else.
I found an article on this topic that is very interesting and quite an eye opener. It discusses the reality of suicide within our community, gives some good advice on how to handle people contemplating suicide, and provides an overall perspective about mental illness.
In the article, it mentions how as Muslims, we need to normalize conversations about suicide. We should discuss suicide and provide information about it in halaqahs, Friday Khutba, and youth groups. We should make others comfortable to come forward if they are depressed and possibly considering suicide. In the article, Shaykh Rami Nsour makes an excellent point, "if we’re not recognizing that suicide is a struggle that some people deal with and we’re not having the conversation in our spaces, and educating our community, then where are these conversations going to be had."
The article also mentions the need for posting suicide hotlines around the Masjid, possibly in the bathrooms as well. I have seen posters about vaping and the dangers of it and I believe posting information about the anonymous suicide hotlines along side those posters would be very beneficial. This would especially be of great benefit to the youth who might not feel comfortable confiding in anyone yet.
Be On Alert
Be aware of how your loved ones are acting and ask about how they're feeling. This might be your spouse, sibling, parents, child, aunt, uncle, best friend, cousin, and anyone close to you. Check in with them often and encourage them to get help if you notice them going deep into depression. Educate yourself about depression and suicide, what the symptoms are and how to spot them in your loved one. Don't turn a blind eye if you notice something isn't right.
Signs and Symptoms
- Feeling hopeless
- Excessive sadness
- Sleeping too much or very little
- Suddenly becoming extremely calm after dealing with depression.
- Avoiding activities that were typically enjoyable
- Participating in dangerous behaviors
- Having experienced some recent trauma or crisis
- Making threats that they will end their lives.
If you believe someone you know is showing signs of being suicidal, stay with them until they get help. Enlist other family members to help. Call 911 or take them to the nearest emergency room. Don't be afraid to break their trust when it comes to getting help.
Further, this is the anonymous suicide hotline that anyone can call, text, or chat with a trained suicide specialist:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1- 800-273-TALK )
You can text them as well by texting the word, "GO" to 741741.
You can also chat with them here: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
The suicide prevention website has some great tips on what to do and not do when you find out someone you love is suicidal.
Here they are the do's and don'ts:
- Be direct
- Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide
- Be willing to listen
- Allow expressions of feelings
- Accept the feelings
- Be non-judgmental
- Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad
- Don’t lecture on the value of life
- Get involved
- Become available
- Show interest and support
- Don’t act shocked, this will put distance between you
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy
- Seek support
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action
- Remove means, like weapons or pills
- Get help from people or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
Take Care of Yourself
As important as it is to care for you loved one and help them out, it's also important to take care of yourself during this time as well. It can be overwhelming to see someone you love suffering, so be sure to seek help for yourself when needed.
Have you had an experience with suicide with yourself or loved one? Let us know in the comment section below.
Beautiful Quran Recitation to help calm your heart
Shaykh Rami Nsour is the Director of the Tayba Foundation in Union City, California, and a Senior Instructor at SeekersHub Global.
Article referenced: Sound Vision
Website referenced: Suicide Prevention Hotline